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Get ready to hop back on THE RIDE. It closed last fall after a 12-year run, but the popular interactive New York City tour bus is under new management and scheduled to roll back through the streets of the Big Apple this spring.
The 75-minute interactive, theatrical experience departing from W42nd Street daily closed in October 2022 after 30,414 performances, owing to “a changed world” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now THE RIDE website says booking dates are “coming soon” in Spring 2023 for group, school, corporate and private event tours.
Former CEO and co-creator of THE RIDE Richard Humphrey is no longer involved with the operation, but he confirmed to W42ST that Kelly O’Connell will continue as General Manager under the new owners.
“THE RIDE was invented and nurtured to become a world-class, pioneering experiential entertainment with the awards and reviews to support the opinion,” Humphrey said. “As the former co-CEO and Chief Creative Officer, I am thrilled to share that it has new, successful and forward-looking ownership to ensure THE RIDE’s vision, quest and longevity post-COVID. I look forward to boarding THE RIDE 2.0! Trusting that you will join with me!”
O’Connell told W42ST that the team was in the final throes of relaunching and were actively looking for all positions, from performer to technician, to join them (interested parties can reach out to email@example.com). She added that “What I’m most looking forward to is the hosts — musicians, performers, and technician being back. It’s been lonely around here and I miss their positive energy. I miss seeing them on the streets. I’m just excited to see them back and have that energy back.”
“Brilliant news,” wrote one commenter on the brand’s re-launch announcement, as a former employee added: “So, so happy to hear this! I miss my former job and life at THE RIDE and was so, so sad to see it close. Those buses will always have a big chunk of my heart!”
First launched in October 2010, Humphrey’s unique tour structure allows visitors to experience carefully curated and staged “New York moments”, meant to simulate the spontaneous street scenes common around Times Square and the West Side. In addition to hosts guiding guests through some of Midtown’s most iconic attractions, THE RIDE features a series of timed mini-performances — such as a tuneful saxophone player on 8th Avenue or a pirouetting ballerina in Columbus Circle — amid the exterior sightseeing stops.
Perhaps THE RIDE’s most recognizable technology is its multi-million dollar Prevost H3-45 VIP Edition coach, customized to create a three-row stadium audience platform and large-scale windows for an IMAX-style viewing experience. The bus is also outfitted with more than 40 video screens, 3,000 LED lights, a surround-sound system and exclusive floor-shaker technology to simulate the feel of each recreated environment, from the subway to the inside of a Broadway theater.
MORE ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT IN HEll’s KITCHEN
According to Thrillist New York hosted over 56 million visitors in 2022, and expects to see 61 million tourists return to the Big Apple in 2023. While the numbers are still below 2019’s 66.6 million visitors, the increase represents a considerable shift back toward a robust tourism season.
If THE RIDE’s reviews are any indication, there will be plenty of eager riders ready to return to the bus. “Made me realize how much I’ve missed being in NYC,” said a Tripadvisor review from guest Danielle, while Vicky G noted, “From the moment we departed, we didn’t stop laughing!” Even the most seen-it-all of city slickers may feel emboldened to try THE RIDE. One guest called the tour “an authentic, witty New York experience! And you can trust me, I’m a New Yorker.”
THE RIDE is an easily accessible activity for tourist visitors in midtown and serves the need of satisfying the gullible tourist market with tacky and borderline sleazy entertainment along its route map.
We REALLY need to have a load of slow-moving awful tourist buses in our city! Horrendous! The traffic is beyond backed-up in this area and the sidewalks are heaving with garbage.. Plus the abandoned work that never gets done under the streets. Not to mention the awful looking, pathetic ‘sheds’ ..Good luck to any tourist stupid enough to do this! Even walking along 8th and 9th avenues which I did last night is a nightmare…. Looks like a worse version of a third world country!
You know, this probably wouldn’t be the thing for me. But I’m glad people seem to like it–and it keeps a LOT of New Yorkers employed. And if it calms traffic? All the better.
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